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Best Of :: Goods & Services

Best store at Park Meadows

After fearing that you'll smack into the kajillion-dollar Jaguar speeding through the parking lot and then bumping into hundreds of cropped-pants-clad shoppers, a visit to the mall can seem pretty stressful. But the Lauren Brooks furniture and accessories store in Park Meadows makes the fear and frustration worth it. Kathy Imes, a local designer who first opened the store in Evergreen ten years ago, offers an establishment stocked with stunning antiques and beautiful new furniture. One piece in particular, a massive bed full of fluffy, zebra-print pillows, seems like it could have the strange power of driving shoppers to throw off the "please don't sit on bed" sign, jump in, and -- for those who can afford it -- roll around in the saffron-charmeuse-tufted, $1,210 comforter and scream "I love being loaded!" Aside from the luring bed, the store is full of treasures such as insect-shaped antique pins, vibrant glass perfume bottles and cozy furniture. For shoppers who can't afford to sleep like the rich, the store offers sweet-smelling soaps made with flowers so you can at least shower like rich folks do. Walk away slowly from the Jag and enter an unparalleled mall paradise.

Readers' choice: Nordstrom

Best spa for Gen-X'ers

Now you can get one leg tattooed while the other one is being waxed! No, seriously: The Blue Door does offer tattooing services, along with related applications of permanent cosmetics and henna body painting. But you can also indulge in every bit of new-age massage media, from Reiki to aromatherapy, all provided by experienced women practitioners. Kick back. Take the ring out of your nose. Relax.

Best place to get tattooed, pierced before you get a haircut

One day earlier this year, a young woman arrived in Capitol Hill to get her hair done. Since her regular hairdresser was still snipping the locks of another customer, the woman wandered two doors down, walked into Twisted Sol and got her genitalia pierced. There are many ways to kill time while waiting to get a haircut -- reading a magazine, for instance -- but there's nothing as creative as getting a new piercing or tattoo, and finer tattoo aficionados can spot a Twisted Sol epidermis a mile away. Whether it's Jeff Kopp's pinpoint portraits or Jeramiah Clark's spray-paint style, this place has the finest den of young ink artists in Denver. "We'll work as many hours as there are in the day," says co-owner Alicia Cardenas. Currently, there's a three-month waiting period for any of the five featured tattooists, but that will change soon. This month, Twisted Sol will expand into an adjacent space (the former Majordomos coffee shop) and add two new tattooists and another piercer. Cardenas says the store will also sell tribal art and jewelry. Whatever you decide on, it's sure to go perfectly with your trendy new trim.

Best use for old tires

Imagine Baco-Bits made of yesterday's Firestones, and you're on your way to envisioning Crown Three, a nifty lawn-care product from a company called Jaitire. Sprinkle it on heavily trafficked areas of turf grass -- dog runs, the mailman's shortcut, the path your kids beat to the swingset -- and this tiny rubber carpet will protect the crown of the grass root while conserving water, extending the growing season and insulating your lawn from the winter blues. Keep your car off the lawn, though. Non-recycled tires tend to leave a mark.

Best recycled utopia

Taking its design inspiration from the board game Candy Land, the folks at Can Land Recycling do their damnedest to put the fun back into recycling. Nestled among the modular-home dealerships of north Federal, the entrance to Can Land is marked by candy-cane-striped poles and a huge, festive sculpture of suspended wooden barrels with massive grins and outstretched arms. That welcome alone is worth all the drudgery of rinsing and sorting a truckload of garbage. The grounds are decorated with a profusion of brightly colored paintings of happy homes and grateful cans caught frozen for all eternity in mid-hug. Maybe hope and happiness can live on beyond the confines of a children's game.

Best place to lighten your load

These good people know all about lifting life's little burdens. Aside from being a thrift store, the nonprofit Family Tree Foundation is dedicated to improving the self-esteem of people needing to overcome family crises, violence and homelessness. The funding comes from donations by the materially overwhelmed, and the folks here run their store with the same care that they run their services. Most notably, unlike some other thrift stores, no item gets thrown away. Even if it's slow to sell, a donation may finally find its value in one of the signature mix-'n'-match packs that make shopping here interesting and affordable. The people at the Family Tree Foundation are experts at getting rid of -- and helping others get rid of or deal with -- unneeded stuff.

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Best store at Park Meadows: Lauren Brooks

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